The parents of five-year-old AJ Freund were arrested Wednesday evening on charges of murder and battery in relation to the disappearance and apparent murder of their young son. The parents claimed AJ disappeared after he went to bed last Thursday night, but law enforcement has now found the boy buried in a shallow grave.
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JoAnn Cunningham, 36, and Andrew Freund Sr, 60, were arrested after they led officers to the body of their recently deceased son Wednesday. The boy’s body was wrapped in plastic and placed in a shallow grave near a rural road in Illinois, according to Crystal Lake Police Chief James Black.
The parents confessed to the killing after they were interrogated and their cell phones’ data provided some discrepancies in their story, USA Today reported. Cunningham and Freund Sr both pleaded for the return of their son after he was initially reported missing. In turn, a six-day manhunt was started until investigators found evidence linking the parents to the crime.
Dirt covered shovels were then taken from the garage of the home, which was presumably used to bury AJ. What may be more troubling is reports now that indicate Department of Child Protective Services visited the home 17 separate times.
The Daily Mail obtained the heavily redacted report, which detailed the extremely poor living conditions AJ and his 3-year-old brother were living in since 2013. Those who walked the home noted an “overwhelming smell of dog feces and urine.” Another report claimed the house was in “disrepair” and the living conditions were “unacceptable.”
Many are questioning why the children were allowed to stay with the parents in a home that had such poor living conditions.
During a December visit, one officer noticed AJ has bruising on his body and arms. Both parents are facing five counts of first-degree murder, four counts of aggravated battery, two counts of aggravated domestic battery and one count of failure to report a missing or child death, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Freund Sr, who was a lawyer before being disbarred after he was arrested while high on cocaine, is additionally charged with two counts of concealment of a homicidal death.